Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One of THOSE days

Some days I am just not sure I am doing this parenting thing right. Should I let her just cry herself back to sleep, or should I go in and hold her? Does he really need to nurse or does he just want to and does it matter? Is it okay to swat her hand when she smacks her brother with a toy or does that totally defeat the purpose? Am I introducing solids too soon? He's so darn skinny and I'm just not sure he's getting enough breastmilk.

I want a little mommy angel on my shoulder to whisper in my ear. This is a dang hard job. I know that loving them is the most important thing, but the worrier in me OFTEN overcomes the peacefulness in me and I reach my limit of times I am able to just let go and say, "Jesus, I Trust in You". I guess that is where God's mercy has to flood in because I am just too weak and all the advice in all the parenting books in the world couldn't make me feel less uncertain during these moments.

I know what you will say, you mommies out there--this is normal, trust my instincts, there is no one right way, follow my heart, etc. etc. etc. But sometimes, I'll be completely honest with you, I just want God to write it on the wall what I'm supposed to do, because I just don't know and I want to run screaming for the hills.

I really thought I would love being a mom more than I do. I love my children wholeheartedly and I believe without a doubt that God has called me to this vocation, and furthermore I do not believe in waiting around thinking it will all be perfect one day. What I think about this situation is that God has presented me with an opportunity to unite myself to Him in these struggles, and what an honor that He trusts me with this particular cross to bear!

I do not feel sad and discouraged every day, or most days. I feel happy a lot. I have SO MUCH JOY at times. But I would be lying to say it comes easily to me, this mommy thing. Today has just been one of those days.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


In the five months we have been graced with the presence of our little Joshua, he has had exactly 1.5 "bad days". He is sweetness embodied. His dimpled smiles melt hearts everywhere and his giggles send me into rapture. I could not have imagined up a more delightful child. That being said...

It was love at first banana. When the kid has food in front of him--no, when the kid has a bib put on him--wait, really all I have to do is put him in his highchair, and he becomes Insatiababy. Mealtime goes something like this: Eyes wide, focused on the spoonful of food. Arms flailing wildly in excitement (sometimes knocking the food off the spoon or the spoon out of my hand). Legs kicking, kicking, kicking (again sometimes dislodging the food or spoon onto the floor, me, or him). Impatient "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm" or "Uh-uh-uh"s. Joshua: Let's practice my spitting with this mouthful of sweet potatoes. I caught mommy off guard and she is looking at me in shock, covered in a thousand tiny droplets of spit-sweet-potato. Wait, I wanted that bite. Can I have it back?

The very first time I ever heard Joshua scream was the first time I reached the end of his rice cereal. Now I dread the last spoonful and the empty bowl and scramble to find a distraction just to avoid the predictable fat lower lip and instantaneous tears. Thing is, if I feed him until he's ready to stop, I'm guaranteed to see the food again. I know this because I've made this mistake more than once with him.

This is not a bad problem to have. It does, however, stand in stark contrast to the eating habits of my 2-year-old.


God just blessed me with a little gift in my hectic day.

I am behind in my catechetical work. The lesson plans I am writing will arrive in time for the teachers to teach the classes, but not much sooner unfortunately. I worry that my work does not satisfy those I am trying to help. Just now I was sitting here nursing Joshua, thinking about my work and worrying. Then I looked at him, all curled up in my arms, warm and happy, I realized that he is perfectly satisfied at this moment, and I helped him feel that way, and whatever else comes my way today I was able to give that security and peace to a little one. Thank you, Lord. May all I do today give you glory.

Here is a link relative to this topic that I found while searching for Mother Teresa quotes for work.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Confessions of an Average Mom

I pick at my son's cradle cap. Once I start, I'm hooked and I can't stop (until he gets squirmy).

I keep my daughter's mouth busy with snacks in the car so she won't scream bloody murder and scare brother and give mommy a headache and make mommy mad.

In desperation I have let my daughter play with the following items: my cell phone, my land phone, my laptop, my wallet, my checkbook, my car keys (think panic button pressed over and over), a roll of toilet paper, a box of kleenex, paperback goes on and on.

My daughter eats a lot of peanut butter.

I'm good at fake sleeping. (That's all I'll say; you'll have to deduce the rest.)

I don't cloth diaper. (I'd like to, but I've just never gotten started with it and quite frankly I LIKE wrapping the poop up in the diaper and throwing the whole business out.)

When I'm working I'm thinking about how I should be playing with my kids and when I'm playing with my kids I'm thinking about work.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Grace Marie!

When I turn my mind from the everyday and really stop and put life with Grace in perspective, my heart fills to overflowing with love and gratitude for the life of my little girl. (Sometimes the overflow squeezes out my eyes.)

Today our special little girl is two years old. We never could have dreamed on that cold cold night in February when she was born in the little cabin in Kingman what a journey we were beginning with her!

We were nervous of course. I remember Paul staying up all night with her the first night, just to be sure she kept breathing. As I lay in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, I heard him praying with her and singing his own version of the popular James Blunt song "You're Beautiful". We were just a pair of proud, happy parents. We adored our little seven-pound package of sweetness.

At five weeks came 'The Big Reveal'. Grace and I had been having some trouble with nursing. She was only a few ounces over her birth weight. I had been to see a La Leche leader and started pumping to increase my milk supply, but I decided to visit the lactation specialist at Wesley as well. The doctor in charge of that department had been a pediatrician for thirty years. She was the one who told me that day that she was near certain Grace had Down Syndrome. Having no point of comparison, we hadn't really found her short, stubby fingers (fondly referred to as her 'little sausages') or the different shape of her eyes, or her generally small features to be remarkable. There were many tears for me, and much uncertainty for all of us.

We also learned that day that Grace had a significant heart murmur, indicative of a congenital heart defect (or two as it turned out). One BT shunt surgery, one heart catheterization, and one open heart surgery later, Gracie is all better. Those experiences are a whole 'nother story.

Every child's life is precious, and perhaps parents who have struggles less life-threatening than our own love their children just as fiercely and dearly as we love our Gracie, but perhaps, just perhaps, our appreciation for her life is surpassing because of the struggles God has chosen us to bear. Even if this is not so, my gratitude to God surpasses what it would have been had He blessed us with a 'normal' child.

So Happy Birthday, my Special Dear One, and may mommy and daddy always be thankful (especially on those days when you make mommy feel crazy) for the blessing we have in you!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Little joys to keep me going

Grace and mommy read Morning Prayer together, and mommy (for once) doesn't lose her cool just because Grace is grabbing the prayer book. Grace points along as mommy reads the prayers aloud, her little chubby finger bobbing up and down on the book leaving spitty marks.

We go downstairs so mommy can work at her desk (We don't have living room furniture anymore but I have my desk back!) and Grace is able to slide her way down the basement stairs all by herself with no help from mommy (other than mommy hovering behind her just in case).

I am working at the computer and hear Joshua's gasp-y baby laugh and I turn around to see Grace laying on top of him, pulling up his shirt, and kissing his tummy ("Mmmmmmuh!").

Mommy catches Grace reading "Frosty the Snowman" to Joshua. Later mommy is nursing Joshua and Grace brings "Frosty the Snowman" to mommy to read/sing. Mommy starts singing and Joshua stops nursing to look up at mommy and smile a big smile.

It is naptime and Grace snuggles up in my lap and takes my hands to fold them in front of her before we sing "Hail Mary".

Joshua is sleeping peacefully in my arms as I type, having just finished a mid-nap snack.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Racecar Driver Within

Have you ever seen the Goofy cartoon where he is a mild-mannered man in a suit and tie and spectacles but when he gets behind the wheel of a car his face contorts and his business attire flies off and he turns into Mr. Wheeler, speeding along in his roadster and nobody better get in his way? I saw it a handful of times when I was a kid and I guess it made an impression.

So here is my confession: I love to drive fast, and I love fast cars, and furthermore I like to find a good driving song I can sing along to and blast the stereo with the bass turned up loud enough so I can feel it. What is it about flying down the road with music blaring that makes me feel so ALIVE? I find it exhilarating to be pushed back in my seat by the force of the car accelerating rapidly. I prefer the inside lane of a curve. I don't think this condition is rare, just perhaps rare for a mommy. Maybe someone else would like to confess?

Now, I never do this with my kids in the car of course. It is reserved for those rare moments when this crazy, wilder side of me--which is usually buried deep in the recesses of my self--can emerge on account of my being alone. When I am driving with my two little precious bundles in the back, "Mrs. Wheeler" sometimes speaks to me, saying things like, 'Don't let that person pass you! Box them out!' or 'Turn up the radio and step on the gas, would ya?!' But my better sense wins, at least until I have a moment alone again...

I owe my brother Joe for helping me 'dispose of' the one material possession for which I had what may have been an unhealthy love--my Camaro. Those close to me have seen me go all dreamy-eyed at the mere mention of this car. I will spare you the details for fear of lapsing into a semi-conscious state while I need to be caring for my children.

Right now Grace is pulling apart the vacuum; specifically, she is trying to remove the rubber bumber on the front. She is yelling at the vacuum because she can't figure out how to get the dirt that she sees in the canister out to play with. THIS is my reality. And yet...

The desires of our heart are really a part of our desire for God. So, what is it about God that I am desiring when I am behind the wheel of the car?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Small (or Not-So-Small) Accomplishment

Grace is very good about amusing herself most of the time. She will toddle off to her room and imagine up a game that usually involves the redistribution of her toys into boxes or bags. Sometimes she emerges from her room in a hat with a bag of something-or-other and goes around the corner into the kitchen waving bye-bye to me.

Yesterday she was playing happily in her room when I got up from nursing to go to Joshua's room for a diaper change (for him, not me, thank goodness--although some day the tables may be turned, poor kid). I peeked in as I was cruising by and stopped short. This is what I saw.

Believe it or not, I have been trying to show her how to pull things over to use as a stepping stool. As of this moment, I guess she finally got it! She couldn't quite get her leg up far enough to climb into her Pack'N'Play, which would have upset her because she would have been stuck in there. She did, however, proceed to carry her chair around the house, seeing what mischief she could find. Look out world!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mozart Magic Milk Mug

In Grace's "Story of My Life", the Mozart Magic Cube is the soundtrack.

The Mozart Magic Cube, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a cube that plays several Mozart songs. The six sides of the cube are buttons that represent different instruments that can be added or subtracted to the song that is being played. It's pretty cool. I can't say she carries it everywhere all day every day, but not a day goes by that it doesn't accompany her from room to room at some point. Unlike most toys that make sound, it doesn't annoy me because it's real music. It's like a little kid orchestra. I love music and I want my kids to appreciate it too, so I'm thrilled Grace loves this toy I picked especially to get her cultural education started. But I digress. This wasn't supposed to be the point.

I have found that the way Grace plays with her toys seldom matches the toy's raison d'etre. I find endearing the way she has chosen to use her Mozart Cube. I say it is the soundtrack for her life because Grace uses her cube as the musical accompaniment for her other activities. She will carry it out of her bedroom and set it down wherever she wants to play, push the button to get it started, and then start reading a book, 'folding laundry', or climb up on the coffee table and dance. When the music stops, she pauses her activity and pushes the button to start the music again, then resumes her activity. It is also useful in the way a cowbell is useful; I usually know right where she is in the house based on where the music is coming from. If the music is far away, say coming from her bedroom, I know I can load the dishwasher without her 'help'. If the music is approaching, I know it is time to close the dishwasher.

This morning Grace decided to pour her Cheerios out onto the tray and slurp them up like a puppy. I was busy making pancakes and she was making her happy toddler noises and eating along so I wasn't paying particular attention. By the time I looked up at her, her face and hair were dripping with milk. Paul was there and was not particularly dismayed. But he is generally not the one who bathes her or combs out her crunchy ratted hair while she screams and tries to escape. I tried to take his cue and just be calm (I believe his respose to my "GRACE!" was "What?") but I admit to being a little huffy as I tried to sponge the milk out of her hair.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Little Appendage

I don't remember the stage in Grace's babyhood when she went from being an extension of me to being her own little self. Not to say she ever lacked personhood from the moment she was conceived--this is just a reflection on how it feels to have an infant who relies on you for everything.

Tonight was 'Girls' Night' and I went out knowing Joshua would most likely sleep the entire time I was gone, and if not I was a short 7 minute drive away and my darling husband would deal manfully with the consequences of me being gone for those 7 minutes should Joshua wake up wanting something Paul couldn't give. And yet, there were never several minutes together that passed without some thought of his little self, his sweet little sleeping self, and in some way looking forward to being reunited with him when he wakes to nurse tonight.

I have grown comfortable with bringing him into bed with me when he wakes around 12 or 1. I don't even turn the light on anymore, which means I just fall right back asleep nursing. I usually wake up a few hours later (or four) with a sore hip on whatever side I was on and gently take him back to his bed for the remaining few hours of the night so that I can get more comfortable again. I have grown to love this little routine. I wasn't able to enjoy nursing with Gracie like this so it has been a joy.

I often think of how nice it will be when Joshua is a little more independent and doesn't want to nurse so often and can play better with Grace. But I think I will look back with at least a little longing on this time when we are so attached. And not just him to me; it is truly a part of myself that is sleeping soundly in the crib at this moment, and I will miss him a little until he wakes wanting me. :)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Day of a Thousand Fits (and No Naps)

I was really looking forward to today. It's Friday, and beside the fact that it means the weekend is about to begin (I really enjoy having Paul home, and I promise it's NOT just because he's such a good daddy and gives me some relief, although that is a good reason too), I'm going grocery shopping, which I actually really enjoy.

Anyhow, I was really looking forward to today. And I'm still in good spirits, but the morning has been intense. Each time I try to lay down a very tired sleeping baby Joshua in his bed, his whole body tenses up and he is suddenly awake and shrieking. He is adorable and I love cuddling him and I really wouldn't mind letting him sleep in my arms, but I have a toddler to contend with and chores to get done, not to mention lesson plans to write. So, here we are at lunch time and he is swinging (not contentedly) so that I can have a short break and feed Grace, who decided naptime was overrated and is sitting with sleepy eyes eating her peanut butter toast.

Grace Grace Grace, where do I begin? Sometimes when she is throwing a crying fit, screaming in rage with tears running down her cheeks, I am unsure if I should scold her or hold her. I also feel confused as to why it is SO SAD that I won't let her play with the clothes laying out on the table to dry when there are several other more exciting options. The forbidden fruit is tastiest I suppose.... This morning the rule was simple. If I wanted her to do something, she didn't want to do it. If I didn't acquiesce to her every whim (which was about every five minutes) she was beside herself with sorrow. I actually let her make a huge mess with a granola bar so I could have a few moments peace.

Well Joshua has reached his limit and Grace is 'all done'. We are going bye-bye very soon so Mommy doesn't lose it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Grace, you're making mommy feel crazy."

Today the scenario goes like this: Mommy is nursing Joshua (this will be a common thread in many stories I weave about Grace's antics) and hears a metal clatter. It has to be the air register in Joshua's room, which doesn't nestle in properly because...well it's a long story. She is removing it for the hundredth time, and I am praying she doesn't throw anything down the hole. I hate it when she does this. "Why don't you just close the door to Joshua's room?" you think. Well, that sounds like a great idea in theory, but for whatever reason it gets pretty cold in there when the door is shut (drafty windows I suppose; shouldn't be, our house is brand new).

Several seconds and a bit of happy toddler chatter later, I hear the mirror leaning against the wall in our bedroom bumping against said wall (will be hung soon but she enjoys it so much we have delayed). Then I hear: "Mmmmmuh. Mmmmmmuh." She is kissing herself in the mirror, I'm sure of it. I have to crack a smile.

As I write, I am STILL nursing Joshua (he wouldn't go down for a nap and I just can't let him cry to sleep, not yet) and Grace is swinging herself very violently in the baby swing. Oh to be two (almost)!